Smart Women Speak: On Drowning In The Tiny Years

May 3, 2017

This is Danielle. Danielle is a smart, funny mother of three who also happens to be my kid’s preschool teacher. The first time I met her, I was handing over my screaming firstborn while she patiently waited for me to excuse myself. If I had to describe her in three words they would be: Champion Of Women.

Q: What would you say to a mom of young kids who is drowning in the tiny years?

A: I would say to be clear on your parenting end game and to be yourself. In those early years, it’s so easy to lose ourselves as women. It’s easy to use all the examples of motherhood in the media, many of which are highly sanitized, and to feel pressured to “measure up.” We can be easily consumed by the expectation that we must be enjoying all of parenting and that our children must be eternally happy. That benchmark is both unrealistic and ambiguous to me. Instead, ask yourself what you hope for your child to learn from your example. What traits will they need to build their own meaningful, happy lives rather than expecting to find meaning and happiness extrinsically? Me? I want my children to see me as their mom but also a woman who is always learning, who has her own ideas, talents, relationships, and interests. I intentionally pursue a life beyond them to both nourish myself and to show them how to someday do the same for themselves. I hope my children to be kind, curious, balanced, brave, productive, and resilient. The people I know who possess these traits have all overcome obstacles in life. Every time my children are about to face disappointment or challenge, I remind myself that facing the pain of life also brings learning opportunities. I would also remind young moms that parenting isn’t hard because you’re doing it wrong. It’s just freaking hard. Those moms ahead of you that seemed to have survived the early years relatively unscathed? Look to them and trust you’ll be there too. They aren’t special or different; just further along on the path. They aren’t likely wholly unscathed either. Nor will you be. All meaningful things change us. But they’ve survived and grown. You will too. 

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This is Virginia. Virginia is a single mother to six and a second mother to many (including me). She is also the most generous person I know. Around her 50th birthday, she started what she calls a “metamorphosis,” which included a lot of self discovery and subsequently losing a lot of weight. Virginia is beautiful at any size, but her recent change made these pictures very fun to take. She hadn’t had her picture taken in over 30 years!

Q: What would you say to a mother of young children who is hitting rock bottom and struggling to care for both herself and her family?

A: After the divorce, I suddenly found myself in unfamiliar territory being a single mom to 6 children. It would be an understatement to say I felt overwhelmed, scared, inadequate and alone. Things to remember: You are not alone. Lean on family and friends. Find other moms in the same stage of life as well as moms who have been through it, and set up a support system for yourself. Also be a support system for someone else. Make meals, swap childcare, be a listening ear. Remind yourself that you’re human and doing the best you can. And make time for you. It may be small things like taking a hot bath after bedtime, reading a book you’ve been trying to finish, or just talking to a friend on the phone. Trust me, it’s not selfish–it’s necessary and life saving (for the kids too).

We only have our children in that dependent phase for a very short period of time, and I promise you will not regret one moment. Even the bad experiences are valuable life lessons. How we see ourselves is how our children will see us, so let them see the real you. Let them see you being kind, loving, giving, and accepting of others, but also as a person who gets frustrated, angry, sad and tired. It’s okay if they see a mom who doesn’t feel like making dinner or cleaning. That’s real.

There is no perfect way to be a mother. Remember every day is a clean slate, and when you know better–do better. Grace, mercy, and forgiveness are key. You are doing great!

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This is Kim. Kim is mother of three and one of my favorite people I’ve never actually met in real life. With this series I wanted to talk to moms with older children who have already been in the trenches, and whenever Kim gives practical parenting tips, I think: Yes, yes. Everything yes.

Q: What would you say to a mom of young kids who is drowning in the tiny years?

A: I can tell you when I started to enjoy it, but I think those ages vary with every kid and everyone’s (including mom and dad’s) temperament. Zoloft and now Wellbutrin helped me immensely. Perspective shows me that I worried a lot about things I didn’t need to. A three-year-old’s temper/attitude/aversion to tags/socks/anything not orange is not the end of the world in the bigger picture. One on one time with each kid is crucial (and a lot of fun). A couple years ago I started Mama Monday (date night with one kid at a time) and it’s my favorite night of the week. One on one time with your spouse is also important. Sometimes we need reminders as to why we married them, and our husbands are the only ones who REALLY get our kids like we do. You’ve got to stay on the same team, especially when the numbers are not in your favor. I know tough schedules can be a problem, so you may have to get creative. We used to have date night scheduled every Friday. We would put the kids to bed and then have dinner and a movie at home together. And of course, and most importantly, make one on one time with yourself. Missing your kids feels so good. Once a week we each have our own night to do what we please, no questions asked, no excuses.

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One thought on “Smart Women Speak: On Drowning In The Tiny Years

  1. Pingback: Mother’s Day {fist bump to the mamas} » Corrin Saintey Photography

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